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Shelby County


1889 History Index

Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties
History of Shelby County, Iowa



Defiance is an incorporated town, located on section 13, township 81, range 39, in the civil township of Union. It was originally platted February 20,. 1882. It is a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, and is situated on the banks of the Nishnabotna River, twelve miles north of Harlan, the county seat of Shelby County. It had a population of 500 in 1885.

The first settler was W. J. Williams, who located on the northeast quarter of section 23. Among the first to engage in trade were W. J. Williams, C. M. Robins, Samuel Reams, Joseph McColl and J. B. S. Case.

W. J. Williams is still engaged in a general store; C. M. Robins went out of trade; J. B. S. Case sold his clothing stock to Herman & Lisle. Easter & Elser, another early firm doing a general business, sold to Easter & Grace. The old firm of Samuel Reams, drugs, has come to be Reams & Son.

H. B. Sooy came to the place and engaged in the farm implement trade, January, 1882, and is still engaged in the same.

Brain Bros., at the instigation of the railroad company, erected the Clarendou Hotel in 1882, which was run as a railway hotel and eating house until dining cars were placed on this branch of the Milwaukee system. From that time on the house did not pay its owners. Among those who leased the property were Messrs. Smith, Burgess and Whitcomb. The house was closed during the greater portion of 1888, but finally taken by L. B. Densmore, October 1 of that year.

The first to deal in grain were Stevens & Fraese, who built an elevator in 1883.

The first lumber dealers were the Defiance Lumber Company, now oeprating as the Green Bay Lumber Company.

The place was incorporated under the laws of the State, in January, 1883. The following is a list of the mayors to the present date: H. B. Sooy, J. E. Consigney, H. B. Sooy, A. S. Riley, C. M. Robins and J. R. Boyd.


was established in 1881, with C. M. Robins as the first postmaster. The succeeding ones were J.B. S. Case and H. J. Brain, the present incumbent. It was made a money-order [pg. 280] office August 14, 1882. The first order was granted to R. J. Argotsinger for $1.25. The total number issued to November 8, 1888, was 2,619.


Defiance has never been behind her rival towns in point of educational interest. Believing the school-house is of first importance, her people have seen to it that good schools have been provided. In 1883 a public school building was erected. It contains three departments, each having a teacher. Upon approaching this thriving town, by wagon or rail, the first object to impress itself on the mind of the stranger is the fine school and church buildings; they are always a true index as to character of a people.

The religious element predominates, and is represented by the Methodist, United Brethren, Christian and Roman Catholic societies, each having good-sized, comfortable and attractive church buildings.

The Christian Church was organzied at an early day, and many of its membership reside on farms in the vicinity of Defiance. The church proper was formed in 1883. The present year (1888) they have erected a new church building, at a cost of $1,700. Heretofore services were held in school-houses. The present pastor, Rev. O. H. Truman, lives at Manning and holds services once in two weeks. The church will be dedicated November 25.

The first services held by the Methodist Episcopal people were in district school-houses, but in 1883 a neat building was erected at a cost of $1,700, which comfortably seats 250 people. The first organization was made up of six members, but now comprises a membership of about seventy. The first pastor was Rev. Charles Brown; following him came Revs. Coe, Douglas, Hugh Linn, F. T. Beckweth, and the present pastor, F. T. Farrow, who also serves the Methodist people at Earling, Panama and Buck Grove, all of which, together with Defiance, are embraced within the Council Bluffs District of the Des Moines Conference. At this date the church owes about $200.

The United Brethren Society at Defiance was among the earliest organziations. They have a membership of forty-five. An attractive church was built in 1888, at a cost of $1,600, which was dedicated August 1. The structure is 30 x 50 feet, with a belfry 8 x 10 feet. The present pastor is F. J. Beetley.


Defiance Lodge, No. 99, of Odd Fellows, was instituted October 31, 1884. The original officers were: G. A. Mershon, N. G.; J. C. Trenor, V. G.; A. J. Spencer, Secretary; H. B. Sooy, Treasurer. These, together with J. F. Loudenslager, constituted the charter membership. The lodge has numbered forty-four, and is about the same at present. They occupy a hall in common with the Masonic fraternity. The present (1888) officers are: J. R. Wickersham, N. G.; J. M. Miller, V. G.; A. S. Riley, Secretary; H. B. Sooy, Treasurer.

Guardian Masonic Lodge, No. 441, was chartered in June, 1884, having worked under dispensation for about two years prior to that date. The following worthy gentlemen compose the charter membership: W. J. Williams, W. M.; Howard Miles, S. W.; C. A. Topping, J. W.; J. F. Massy, Tyler; C. M. Robins, Secretary; E. B. Brown, S. D.; Joseph Yockey, Treasurer; Frank Massy, J. D.; W. H. Mytinger and Charles Seybold. The present (1888) officers are: W. J. Williams, W. M.; A. S. Riley, S. W.; S. G. Massy, J. W.; W. B. Sooy, Treasurer; C. A. Topping, Secretary; Joseph Yockey, S. D.; John Durkes, J. D.; Elmer Reams, S. S.; A. G. Meuller, J. S.


Bank of Defiance,A. Riley, Cashier.
Clarendon House,L. B. Densmore, proprietor.
H. C. Crawford,hardware.
Green Bay Lumber Company.
Leroy Densmore,billiards.
J. R. Easterly,grocery.
James Flaugher,blacksmith.
George A. Fry,grain dealer.
Fuller & Co.,grain dealers.
George Gibson,livery stable.
T. B. Hobart,farm implements.
H. B. Sooy,farm implements, and justice and collections.
Warren Reams,meat market.
Ream & Son,general store.
Adolph Stepanack,harness shop.
Topping & Fry,druggists.
Harnen & Lisle,clothing store.
Easter & Grace,general store.
H. C. Vanduzer,lumber.
W. J. Williams,general store.

The Argus, edited and owned by F. Bangs, is a live local sheet, well representing the best interests of the town and surrounding country. For a full account see the Press chapter elsewhere.

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Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, August, 2015 from "Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties", Chicago: W. S. Dunbar & Co., 1889, pg. 279-281.

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